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But who can tell what essence angels are, Or how long Heaven was making Lucifer? Oh, could the style that copied every grace, And plough'd such furrows for an eunuch-face, Could it have form'd his ever-changing will, The various piece had tir'd the graver's skill! A martial hero first, with early care, Blown, like a pigmy by the winds, to war; A beardless chief, a rebel ere a man, So young his hatred to his prince began. Next this, (how wildly will ambition steer!) A vermin, wriggling in the usurper's ear; Bartering his venal wit for sums of gold, He cast himself into the saint-like mould; Groan'd, sigh’d, and pray'd, while godliness was gain, The loudest bagpipe of the squeaking train. But, as ’tis hard to cheat a juggler's eyes, His open lewdness he could ne'er disguise: There split the saint; for hypocritic zeal Allows no sins but those it can conceal. Whoring to scandal gives too large a scope: Saints must not trade, but they may interlope. The' ungodly principle was all the same, But a gross cheat betrays his partner's game. Besides, their pace was formal, grave, and slack ; His nimble wit outran the heavy pack : Yet still he found his fortune at a stay, Whole droves of blockheads choking up his way: They took, but not rewarded, his advice; Villain and wit exact a double price. Power was his aim; but thrown from that pre
tence, The wretch turn'd loyal in his own defence, And malice reconcild him to his prince.
Him, in the anguish of his soul, he serv'd,
Rewarded faster still than he deserv'd.
Behold him now exalted into trust,
His counsels oft convenient, seldom just.
E’en in the most sincere advice he gave,
He had a grudging still to be a knave.
The frauds he learn’d in his fanatic years,
Made him uneasy in his lawful gears :
At best, as little honest as he could,
And, like white witches, mischievously good.
To his first bias, longingly, he leans,
And rather would be great by wicked means.
Thus, fram'd for ill, he loos'd our triple hold,
Advice unsafe, precipitous, and bold:
From hence those tears, that Ilium of our woe,
Who helps a powerful friend, fore-arms a foe.
What wonder if the waves prevail so far,
When he cut down the banks that made the bar?
Seas follow but their nature, to invade ;
But he by art our native strength betray'd.
So Samson to his foe his force confest,
And, to be shorn, lay slumbering on her breast;
But when this fatal counsel, found too late,
Expos'd its author to the public hate;
When his just sovereign, by no impious way,
Could be seduc'd to arbitrary sway;
Forsaken of that hope, he shifts his sail,
Drives down the current with a popular gale,
And shows the fiend confess'd, without a veil,
He preaches to the crowd that power is lent,
But not convey'd, to kingly government;
That claims successive bear no binding force ;
That coronation-oaths are things of course :
Maintains the multitude can never err,
And sets the people in the Papal chair.
The reason's obvious, Interest never lies;
The most have still their interest in their eyes;
The power is always theirs, and power is ever
Almighty Crowd! thou shorten’st all dispute,
Power is thy essence, wit thy attribute ;
Nor faith nor reason make thee at a stay,
Thou leap'st o'er all eternal truths in thy Pindaric
Athens, no doubt, did righteously decide, (way!
When Phocion and when Socrates were tried ;
As righteously they did those dooms repent;
Still they were wise, whatever way they went;
Crowds err not, though to both extremes they run,
To kill the father, and recal the son.
Some think the fools were most, as times went then,
But now the world's o’erstock'd with prudent men.
The common cry is e’en Religion's test;
The Turk's is at Constantinople best ;
Idols in India, Popery at Rome;
And our own worship only true at home:
And true, but for the time ; 'tis hard to know
Low long we please it shall continue so.
This side to-day, and that to-morrow burns ;
So all are god-almighties in their turns.
A tempting doctrine, plausible and new ;
What fools our fathers were, if this be true!
Who, to destroy the seeds of civil war,
Inherent right in monarchs did declare;
And that a lawful power might never cease,
Secur'd succession, to secure our peace.
Thus property and sovereign sway, at last,
In equal balances were justly cast ;
But this new Jehu spurs the hot-mouth'd horse,
Instructs the beast to know his native force,
To take the bit between his teeth, and fly
To the next headlong steep of anarchy.
Too happy England, if our good we knew,
Would we possess the freedom we pursue !
The lavish government can give no more ;
Yet we repine, and plenty makes us poor.
God tried us once; our rebel-fathers fought;
He glutted 'em with all the power they sought;
Till, master'd by their own usurping brave,
The free-born subject sunk into a slave.
We loath our manna, and we long for quails :
Ah, what is man, when his own wish prevails!
How rash, how swift to plunge himself in ill!
Proud of his pow'r, and boundless in his will !
That kings can do no wrong, we must believe :
None can they do, and must they all receive?
Help, Heaven! or sadly we shall see an hour,
When neither wrong nor right are in their pow'r!
Already they have lost their best defence,
The benefit of laws which they dispense;
No justice to their righteous cause allow'd,
But baffled by an arbitrary crowd ;
And Medals grav'd, their conquest to record,
The stamp and coin of their adopted lord.
The man* who laugh'd but once, to see an ass
Mumbling to make the cross-grain'd thistles pass,
Might laugh again, to see a jury chaw
The prickles of unpalatable law.
The witnesses that, leech-like, liv'd on blood,
Sucking for them were med’cinally good;
But when they fastend on their fester'd sore,
Then justice and religion they forswore ;
Their maiden oaths debauch'd into a whore.
Thus men are rais'd by factions, and decried,
And rogue and saint distinguish'd by their side.
They rack e’en Scripture to confess their cause,
And plead a call to preach, in spite of laws.
But that's no news to the poor injur'd page ;'
It has been us'd as ill in every age :
And is constrain'd, with patience, all to take:
For what defence can Greek and Hebrew make?
Happy, who can this talking trumpet seize;
They make it speak whatever sense they please.
'Twas fram’d, at first, our oracle to’ inquire ;
But since our sects in prophecy grow higher,
The text inspires not them, but they the text
London! thou great emporium of our isle ;
O thou too bounteous, thou too fruitful Nile!
How shall I praise or curse, to thy desert;
Or separate thy sound from thy corrupted part:
I call'd thee Nile; the parallel will stand ;
Thy tides of wealth o’erflow the fattend land ;
Yet monsters from thy large increase we find,
Engender'd on the slime thou leav'st behind,
Sedition has not wholly seiz'd on thee;
Thy nobler parts are from infection free:
Of Israel's tribes thou hast a numerous band,
But still the Canaanite is in the land.
Thy military chiefs are brave and true;
Nor are thy disinchanted burghers few.
The head is loyal which thy heart commands,
But what's a head with two such gouty hands *
* Shute and Pilkington, the two City Sheriffs.